This week’s Monday Meal, Rainbow Pasta, is a dish I love for a bunch of reasons. Besides being colorful and tasty, below are some of the other reasons my teeny tiny sous chef and I like to make and eat this dish. I’ve included some tips, as well.
1. You can customize this dish to use any vegetables you have on hand or that you prefer to eat. You can also enjoy it warm or cold. If you want to enjoy this dish cold, cool down your pasta by spreading it out onto a baking sheet after you’ve drained off the water. Place the pasta into the fridge for 15 minutes while you finish preparing the vegetables.
2. Even if you don’t use every color in a rainbow, try to use many different colored vegetables. Brightly colored vegetables (and fruits) include tons of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and other healthy benefits. Don’t shy away from frozen vegetables as they are very nutritious when flash frozen and free of added salt, sugar and preservatives. When using frozen vegetables, I take out the portion I’ll need and thaw it in the refrigerator in a covered container overnight. Canned vegetables are a good alternative as well, especially if you can find BPA-free packaging.
3. This is a great dish to make with kids. They can be involved on many levels starting with choosing vegetables at the grocery store or farmers market. Research shows that when kids are involved in cooking a dish, they are more likely to eat it. I’m suggesting you try to take it one step further and give your teeny tiny sous chef ownership over the dish by allowing him to choose some (or all) of the vegetables. Giving over some of the cooking control will empower him even more and increase the chances that he will enjoy the dish after his hard work.
4. Other than choosing the vegetables, your teeny tiny sous chef can help in many other ways. Younger sous chefs can help add olive oil and salt to the pot of water you’ll use for the pasta, help wash vegetables in the sink or in a bowl of cool water, tear the mozzarella cheese into small chunks, add vegetables to the pasta after it cooks, and stir it all together. Older sous chefs can do all of the above as well as help cut up the vegetables and cheese.
5. Here are some colorful veggies you might want to include:
- Red: Tomatoes, beets or red peppers
- Orange: Carrots, orange peppers or orange squash such as pumpkin, butternut or acorn
- Yellow: Yellow squash, yellow peppers, gold cauliflower, or corn
- Green: Spinach, kale, green peppers, peas, broccoli or edamame
- Blue: Blue potatoes
- Purple: Purple cabbage, eggplant, or purple cauliflower
- Rainbow Pasta
- Yields 6-8 servings
- -1 pound whole wheat pasta such as penne, shells or farfalle (We used orecchiette)
- -¾ pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
- -2 carrots, peeled and grated
- -¾ cup corn, drained if canned, thawed if frozen
- -1-2 cups organic baby spinach, roughly chopped
- -¾ cup purple cauliflower, finely chopped
- -6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut or torn into ½-inch chunks
- -2 ounces parmesan or locatelli cheese, grated or shredded
- -Small handful fresh herbs, finely chopped (We like to use basil, chives and/or parsley)
- -4 teaspoons olive oil
- -Salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste
Fill a large, lidded pot with water, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 2 pinches of salt to the water, cover and bring it to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Once it is cooked, drain it and pour the pasta into a large bowl.
Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, a few pinches of salt and garlic pepper and a pinch of black pepper to the pasta. Mix together. Add in the vegetables and the remaining olive oil, if needed, and mix it all together. Add the cheeses and herbs and mix again.
Taste, adjust spices and herbs as desired and enjoy!